DETROIT — Before the Celtics held their morning shootaround Friday, the team took a moment to congratulate forward Jayson Tatum on his third consecutive All-Star selection. But there is an expectation within the franchise that this should continue to be an annual occurrence.
“For him, it’s a standard that he set, a goal he should achieve yearly, in my opinion,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said before his team’s fourth straight victory, “as well as All-NBA and eventually be in the MVP conversation. So we’re all happy for him, obviously.”
Tatum, averaging 25.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists, said he learned the news while watching Thursday night’s selection show at the team hotel.
“It’s an incredible feeling, something that you don’t want to take for granted,” he said. “So, thankful, and I’m happy to be going back.”
Tatum had 24 points and nine rebounds in Friday night’s win over the Pistons.
Tatum will most likely be elevated to a starting spot in place of injured Nets forward Kevin Durant. Tatum received the fourth most voting points among Eastern Conference frontcourt players. He started in place of Durant last year, too.
The Celtics are hopeful Durant’s absence will also open up a reserve slot for Jaylen Brown, who had 13 points against Detroit. Brown, who was named an All-Star last season, is averaging 23.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. But he missed 14 games because of a hamstring injury and was not chosen as a reserve by the Eastern Conference’s coaches.
“He’s a very highly motivated guy, and obviously that’s a goal he strives for every year,” Udoka said. “The hamstring was one thing, but a lot of guys missed games this year and were out for different reasons. One thing I said to him or our team in general is winning affects a lot of things. Record-wise we could be better, obviously, and that would have helped his cause.”
Hornets guard LaMelo Ball and forward Miles Bridges, Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, and Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen are likely Brown’s primary competition for the final slot.
“I might text [NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver,” Tatum said, smiling. “See what we can do.”
Tatum said he does not plan to take part in the 3-point shootout this season. He placed third behind Stephen Curry and Mike Conley Jr. last year.
Worrying about what he has
The Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline is fast approaching, but Udoka said he won’t take any potential moves into consideration while figuring out his upcoming rotations.
“We’re just trying to be consistent and play with what we have,” he said. “Don’t start tinkering with things that may or may not happen. And so, if something happens at that point, we’ll obviously be prepared for it and see what we have. But up until now we’re just trying to play the way we’ve been playing and don’t want to mess with that.”
Future in the stars?
Tatum was asked whether he thought there were any other future All-Stars on Boston’s roster. After contemplating the question for a bit, he decided on fourth-year center Robert Williams, adding that Williams also has the talent to win a Defensive Player of the Year award. Williams had 11 points and 11 rebounds in Friday’s win.
“I think he’s on the right path,” Tatum said. “When we get back to being that No. 1 or 2 seed and Rob keeps evolving, I don’t see why we couldn’t get two or three players. Rob being in that core group for us makes us be the best version of ourselves. I’m not even sure Rob believes he can be an All-Star, but he definitely can one of these days.”
Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.